Jon Bon Jovi is a world-famous rock star with numerous albums that have sold millions of copies. But there’s another side to him that some fans may not know.
He’s also a social entrepreneur who is dedicated to fighting hunger.
The 54-year-old Bon Jovi and his wife, Dorothea Bongiovi, just opened a second location of the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Kitchen, whose mission is to feed people in need and make them feel empowered. Soul Kitchen’s newest location is in Toms River, New Jersey (Bon Jovi’s home state), an area devastated by Superstorm Sandy in October 2012. The restaurant’s first location opened in 2011 in Red Bank, NJ.
Soul Kitchen is a community restaurant with a unique model. Once seated, guests may find themselves next to someone they don’t know. The menu has no prices. Those in need can bus tables, wash dishes or do other volunteer work in exchange for a nutritious meal. Paying customers donate toward the cost of the volunteers’ food by purchasing a “Pay It Forward” certificate.
The Toms River Soul Kitchen is in the B.E.A.T. (Bring Everyone All Together) Center, a one-stop facility that includes a food distribution center, a production kitchen for at-risk children in after school programs, a food pantry and a culinary skills training program, among other resources.
The center is the latest of several initiatives undertaken by the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation to assist struggling families. The foundation also has built hundreds of affordable housing units and shelter in 10 states for low-income or formerly homeless people.
Bon Jovi took on the issue of hunger because it’s an area where he could make a real difference.
“We didn’t need scientists to find a cure,” he says in this Associated Press article. “There are so many wonderful causes and so many passionate people that are addressing them. We have been inspired by so many of our in-need neighbors who have come seeking help.”
Maybe Soul Kitchen will inspire others to find ways to pay it forward within their own communities. For a better idea of what the restaurant is like, check out this video.